MSF Observer Network - now open for registration

evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
edited September 2 in Admin Communications
Well-established marathon swimming governing bodies (e.g., CS&PF, CCSF, SBCSA, NYC Swim) have networks of observers and other volunteers to ensure their swims are recorded, verified, and legitimate.

But what about "off-the-grid" swims where there is no local governing body? If a swimmer desires independent observation & verification of his or her swim, whom are they to ask?

If you are interested in making yourself available to observe off-the-grid swims, we invite you to join the MSF Global Observer Database. To join, please complete the online form:

marathonswimmers.org/observers/register/

Unless other arrangements are made, observers should assume their travel and lodging will be paid by the swimmer.

Privacy Notice: For now, the database will remain private except to MSF Admins. If there are enough sign-ups, we will develop a method of querying the database for swimmers seeking observers. We will always ask permission before releasing an observer's contact info to a swimmer. The database, including your names, will be non-web-searchable.
Tagged:
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Comments

  • IronMikeIronMike BostonCharter Member
    @evmo, I see on the form that you ask about certifications and training. What do you (and others!) think about someone with no official training signing up to be an observer?

    With that in mind, is there training besides that which the known governing bodies hold? Or, can someone who is already a trained observer come, say, to the DC area, sleep on someone's couch, and train me the potential observer on observing skills?

    (Feel free to move this to a separate observer thread if you want to keep this one "clean")

    Just here troubling deaf heaven with my bootless cries...

  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited September 2013
    Observer training is nice to have, but definitely not a requirement. I believe CCSF & SBCSA run the only such training in the US, so that certification is pretty localized to Southern California. For someone on the East Coast such as yourself, you might look into volunteering as an observer for MIMS or the Ederle Swim...

    Main thing is to have an avid interest in & knowledge of open water swimming. Usually, that means the observer is also an active swimmer.

    Going forward, perhaps we can begin developing a set of online "observer education" materials...
  • SharkoSharko Tomales BayGuest
    edited September 2013
    Evmo....

    Maybe you and Sharko need to develop one with all the recent activity....the Bubble Cap Channel swimming association along with Sharko's "get you mind right" swim camp can sponsor the training and certification...

    "I never met a shark I didn't like"

  • malinakamalinaka Seattle, WACharter Member
    Along with this, thoughts on getting a set of "Generic Rules for Unassisted Swims" together?

    Once compiled, we could borrow that "Approved by the Sport of Marathon Swimming" stamp we've heard so much about.
    dpm50

    I don't wear a wetsuit; it gives the ocean a sporting chance.

  • DanSimonelliDanSimonelli San Diego CASenior Member
    edited October 2013
    This is a great idea!
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited May 2015
    Thank you to all those who have registered with the MSF Observer Database so far.

    To add further clarification to @IronMike's question above:

    - Previous observing experience is not necessary to join the Observer Database.

    - Catalina or English Channel observer training is not necessary to join the Observer Database.


    The primary qualification is an active interest in, and knowledge about, long distance open water swimming. By that standard, any currently active marathon swimmer is qualified to join the database of willing observers.

    We will soon be adding "observer education" materials to the MSF website.

    If a swimmer is undertaking a very high-profile and complicated swim, he/she may prefer highly experienced and well-known observers. In other cases, this may not be as important. It's also possible to pair an experienced observer with a new observer - this is the model used by CCSF and SBCSA.

    My point is - just because you're not an experienced observer, doesn't mean you shouldn't sign up for this database! If you're a member of this Forum, you're probably already a good observer candidate.

    If you live outside Southern California, NYC, or the British Isles, your regional location may be just as valuable as your observing experience. Please don't be shy!
  • SeanSean Member

    just stumbled across this. none of the links work, but i would put myself on that list if it still exists

    BogdanZStLucia_Channel
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited September 2

    @Sean said:
    just stumbled across this. none of the links work, but i would put myself on that list if it still exists

    Thanks for the interest, @Sean. This is not an active project at the moment... it seemed like a good idea at the time (2013) but in practice never quite worked the way it was intended. Too many people interpreted the list as if it represented actual skills or certification, when in reality we have no ability to certify observers (for now).

    The registration form has been shut down for a while, but I'm happy to leave this Forum thread open for anyone who wants to informally express a willingness to observe. Suggested details:

    • name
    • location
    • relevant experience & skills (previous swims observed, marathon swims done, crewing experience, boating license, CPR/First Aid/lifeguarding/paramedic training)
    SeanStLucia_Channel
  • SeanSean Member

    I have no experience (yet) in observing....but have some swims that were observed, and fully understand and support the MSF rules. I am in Switzerland.

    BogdanZevmo
  • StLucia_ChannelStLucia_Channel Saint Lucia Member

    Thank you @evmo for keeping this thread open.

  • curlycurly Issaquah, WAMember

    In light of some of the recent discussions about ratifying swims and what is legal etc., I started thinking about the role of observer. I have observed on a couple local swims around here and I think I'm getting better at it. I try to review the rules and I also feel my role is to be supportive of the effort. To that end, I will point out safety issues when I see them and that kind of thing. I have been on a few swims with experienced swimmers and crew and also with less experienced folks. I feel I'm still learning, and I'd like to see a nice resource for helping me become a better observer. I'd like to be the considered the kind of person that when a swimmer does a swim, people ask who the observer was and when they see it was me, there are no further questions. Ideas? Comments?

    IronMikeStLucia_ChannelSolorlmevmoChefKen
  • rlmrlm Member

    I guess I'd start by looking at the MSF standards for documenting a swim...try to really understand why each item is included and become knowledgable of best practice in swim documentation.

    evmoLakeBaggerChefKen
  • StLucia_ChannelStLucia_Channel Saint Lucia Member

    @evmo has provided me with some great feedback and instructions. This has allowed me to teach others how to observe a swim. We are still in a learning process.

    evmoChefKen
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited September 28

    @curly said: I have observed on a couple local swims around here and I think I'm getting better at it. I try to review the rules and I also feel my role is to be supportive of the effort. To that end, I will point out safety issues when I see them and that kind of thing.
    I'd like to be the considered the kind of person that when a swimmer does a swim, people ask who the observer was and when they see it was me, there are no further questions.

    You're on the right track - nothing replaces experience on the water on real-world swims.

    I think there are several distinct observer roles, each of which are emphasized more, or less, depending on the nature of the swim.

    1. Documenter of facts about the swim (traditionally via log, but in recent years with the addition of GPS tracking and photo/video content)
    2. Referee (confirming that the rules are followed)
    3. Representative of an association (if an association governs the event - not relevant for independent swims)
    4. Safety official (monitoring the well-being of the swimmer and, in collaboration with the boat pilot, the marine conditions and overall swim support situation)
    5. Advocate for success of the swim (in collaboration with the pilot and support crew, and while maintaining impartiality).

    For me, it was essential early on to work swims sanctioned by strong/rigorous associations - in my case the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation and Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association. These orgs offered structured training programs, the opportunity to work with experienced observers, and gave me a strong base understanding of "how things are supposed to work" in observing.

    Then, once I'd done a few of these swims, I felt confident to spread my wings a bit and take on the challenge of independent swims in less-known waters. For me that was Craig Lenning's Farallon swim in 2014, when I started experimenting with methods of documenting that went beyond the traditional observer log.

    Approach each swim with an openness to adventure and willingness to learn new things - as there are learning experiences available on every swim, no matter how many swims you've observed.

    Kate_AlexanderStLucia_ChannelLakeBaggerIronMikecurlyj9swimChefKen
  • StLucia_ChannelStLucia_Channel Saint Lucia Member

    This is more great info! I will be sure to add it into our upcoming training as well as "reminder training" for those who have completed the initial training.

  • curlycurly Issaquah, WAMember

    And to add to the helpful input of @evmo , it occurs to me that I learn a lot when I read the swim documentations of some of the big swims that are listed in the long swims database. I've started studying the observer notes and will find ideas to emulate. I may not ever swim a huge swim, but one day I might document the heck out of one...

    KatieBunStLucia_ChannelKate_AlexanderCathyInCArlm
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